Goodnight [Walking Dead Dissection]

Posted by Justin on March 6th, 2012
dale walking dead.jpg

An episode of long deliberations and a shocking conclusion.

We debate the shocking end of this week’s Walking Dead AFTER THE JUMP…

Why can’t that kid be interesting?

I wondered aloud two weeks ago about our hostage Randal hopefully being a little smarter than he looks. After all, he saved himself last week with a cleverly timed line. Would it be too much to ask that it was premeditated on some level and not just random stuff said by a random dude at a random moment which happened to save his life?

Guess not.

He’s just a dude in a barn.

Why do none of our characters ever evolve?

This episode is literally designed around Dale banging everyone’s sounding board to see how they’ve changed. Shockingly… Everyone is exactly who they thought the were.

- Daryl is a loner. He even said it.

- Shane is a jerk but shockingly amiable to respecting Dale’s right to free speech

- Andrea disagrees but secretly knows he’s probably right

- Rick is indecisive to the point of negligence

There is no journey. No winding path. They say the shortest path between two points is a straight line, on The Walking Dead it’s just one dot. We end where we start.

Carl’s zombie dance party

Carl dials up the creep in this ep. Wandering around, getting into weird conversations, infuriating grieving mothers, stumbling upon executions and loudly voicing support.

He his big moment came when he persuaded a stationary zombie, stuck in the patented Herschel River Bed, to perform Chubby Checkers “The Twist” until he got free. This would just be nonsense… except…

Dale died from a random zombie opening up his chest

Like. Really died. Not a car flip fake out

My biggest question is… why?

What did we learn? Are any of his survivors going to change their behavior going forward.

In a world of zombies, getting eaten is like being hit by a falling tree. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate it keeping us off balance. Now we are given our biggest lesson ever that anyone can die at any time.

But… why?

It’s not like he died at the hands of a marauder. That would have illustrated that he was wrong about the need to keep humanity as a priority over security. Maybe he could have tried to help Randal escape and just as they are on the outskirts of the farm Randal kills him.

It just seems pointless.

Now, let’s talk for a second about the comic. Shane is a character that got to shine a lot more in the series by the benefit of not dying as early as he did in the book. We now know that Dale got the opposite treatment and I think it leaves a lot of really interesting drama on the table.

If you haven’t read the book, I am only going to talk comic from here on out so you can stop reading…

…okay?

…cool?

The relationship between Dale and Andrea represented a very interesting dramatic theme for me: the evolution of love and personal security in this zombie wasteland. The social taboos that we inherently react to (May/December romance) are tossed aside because Dale and Andrea are make each other happy. This gives us an hard example as to how things have changed.

So far, we’ve seen very little of that in the TV show.

Also, we won’t get to see Dale scream “TAINTED MEAT!” whilst making The Dale Face.

Too bad.

  • mxyzptlk

    One of the more interesting moments of character evolution in the comic was when Carl iced the twin-killing twin. That more than just about anything showed Carl’s development towards a colder, harder character in colder, harder world.

    This episode seemed like it was trying to get to the same place, but with different pieces on the board and no map. They might have made a clearer step towards hardening Carl if they allowed him to pull the trigger on the swamp twister.

    They didn’t.

    They might have accomplished this by having Carl take care of the Randal problem.

    They didn’t.

    They might have accomplished this by having Carl settle another Rick/Shane argument once and for all.

    They didn’t.

    They might have accomplished this by having one of Randal’s people people out on that field, Carl out for a bathroom break or something, and then having Carl taking him out before the stranger took out Dale — because Carl learned his lesson with the swamp twister ate the cow.

    They didn’t.

    What they did do is allow the swamp twister to play the same roll as the snake that bit Daryl or the Burt Reynolds car flip; it (he?) became a device used to illustrate Carl’s lesson that letting an unknown quantity live is dangerous. Call him (it?) Chekhov’s zombie.

    But the device turned the episode into Twilight Zone-ish morality play. Remember the Twilight Zone where Burgess Meredith plays a misanthropic bibliophile who breaks his glasses shortly after becoming the last person on earth? The impact of Carl seeing the walker he failed to kill had just ripped open Dale echoed echoed that Twilight Zone.

    I’m not completely against the morality plays. It just seemed like a long way to go for one that resulted in consequences for the sake of consequences. If Carl doesn’t kill someone significant soon, that’s all offing Dale will result in.

    Or maybe they’re trying to upend the cast as a way to force them into a new creative space. If Shane hangs around (which seems unlikely given the Blu-Ray announcement), maybe he takes Dale’s role with regard to Andrea. (Damn that sounds soap-opera-ish…)

  • http://geekvariety.tumblr.com/ GeekVariety

    I’m not gonna get deep into it like you guys already have but I liked the episode for the most part, I’ve liked the series for the most part, but I get what you’re saying. 

    It feels like they are trying to make the show its own thing but missing the point of the original stories and through sloppy editing or screen writing not hitting the marks as efficiently as they should be. 

    It kinda feels like they are watering the content down for the lowest common denominator, which is odd, because I cant imagine those people are even watching this show in the first place. Why not stick with the solid bases the comic already laid down and change the details a bit instead of trying so hard to not be the comics.

    I think they are scared to repeat what was done in the comics for fear of pissing off fans or something and honestly most of the fans of the comics I’ve spoken too have said plainly they would love to see them go by the book and just recreate it verbatim to which I would agree in some cases it would be better than what they are doing now. 

  • http://ebonnebula.deviantart.com/ EbonNebula

    I sort of agree. The way they decided to kill Dale off did serve a purpose, traumatizing the hell out of Carl and (hopefully) giving him a shoot-first attitude. They may have also been trying to martyr him a bit. Some characters will take his last words to heart, holding onto humanity. Although I’m sure others will see the opposite message, the weak die.

  • Anonymous

    Haters gonna hate…

  • Anton Tanderup

    Dale was a pretentious ass anyway. His death brought a little joy to my heart. 

  • Anton Tanderup

    Dale was a pretentious ass anyway. His death brought a little joy to my heart.